Ayrton Senna voted Champion of Champions by F1 Fanatic readers

Champion of Champions

Posted on

| Written by

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 1991

Ayrton Senna has been voted the all-time Formula 1 Champion of Champions in a poll of F1 Fanatic readers.

The six-week-long series debating the greatest champions of all time saw over 20,000 votes cast and 4,603 comments posted.

Senna was picked over Michael Schumacher in the final round of the elimination tournament with 57% of the vote.

Given the differences between the drivers, the cars they had and the eras they drove in, finding a winner that a large majority agreed with was always likely to be impossible.

It would be too easy, and rather simplistic, to say that the choice of Senna was entirely down to his charismatic appeal and the untimeliness of his death.

Senna exploited the opportunities that were presented to him. In Formula 1 you will never win a world championship without a car that’s good enough to deliver it.

He had such a car from 1988-1991. In that four-year period he won three world championships, and lost the other because his principal rival drove into him.

The rest of the time he punched far above the weight of whatever he was driving.

In his first season he nearly won a race in a Toleman and in his final full year he won five races up against the devastating Williams-Renault FW15Cs.

Aside from his exceptional record – particularly his astonishing tally of pole positions – a recurring point in the discussions about Senna was the darker side of his talent. Particularly the crash with Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990 that sealed his second title.

That cynical and dangerous act cannot be glossed over. But nor can we ignore that two of the other most highly-rated champions – Schumacher and Prost – won titles in similar circumstances.

We cannot say whether the races Senna never drove would have enhanced or diminished his reputation as a driver.

Judged solely on his record: for his strangle hold on pole position, for his wet weather genius, for his overtaking prowess, for taking on and beating a multiple champion in ‘his team’, and for the races and titles he won against top-drawer rivals, Ayrton Senna is a satisfying choice as Champion of Champions.

But he ‘greatest champion of all time’ argument is one that’s impossible to resolve. Hopefully this series has provided an entertaining and original angle on it, once which you enjoyed participating in.

See the Champion of Champions in stats to compare how all 32 F1 champions stack up.

Here’s a full breakdown of who won each round of Champion of Champions:

Champion of Champions - complete voting record

Thanks to Emory McGinnis for producing the Champion of Champions table.

Champion of Champions

Browse all Champion of Champions articles

Images © Honda

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

190 comments on “Ayrton Senna voted Champion of Champions by F1 Fanatic readers”

  1. Congratulations Ayrton!

    1. shumi should av won i bet most of the votes for senna we shumi h8rs garenteed!!!!

      1. I think it will take Schumacher to have serious accident to make him get immortal status. Which is incredibly wrong since he is simply the greatest driver there has ever been.

        1. Don’t be daft, Senna won the poll, live with it.

          1. I would have put Clark, Fangio, Stewart ahead of senna. Prost and Lauda and Schumacher about the same.

        2. That’s ridiculous. Who will most people name when asked to name an F1 driver? That’s right: Michael Schumacher.
          He’s achieved immortality, he’s the most successful F1 driver of all time.

          That doesn’t make him the best champion.

      2. i agree, mostly voted on what if Senna had lived… there were many what if reasons given by ppl who voted for Senna. i’m sure if this poll was conducted in either Italy or Germany we would get a completely different result. biases exist & the popular bias wins always.

        1. if this poll was conducted in either Italy or Germany

          I don’t block visitors from Italy or Germany.

          Although the largest single nationality group is British there were no British drivers left by the semi-finals.

          So I don’t buy the usual boring ‘nationalism’ argument and, as I wrote in the article, I think the ‘Senna only won because he died’ argument is pretty flimsy too.

        2. The 2010 Formula 1 grid where German drivers were more numerous voted Senna the best. Schumacher voted Senna the best.

          I tell you what… you go run this poll in Germany and Italy, but after that do the same in Japan or Brazil and then come back and report your findings.

      3. Indeed!! I can’t stand it when people get all dewey eyed over Senna just because he died on track. Great driver, no arguments there but the stats speak for themselves. Schumacher wins hands down in this respect!! Also, people say that Schumacher’s legend is tarnished by a handful of dubious moves. Why then is the same not true of Senna who drove Prost off the road to win the title. Just one incident in a whole catalogue of career tarnishing manoeveres. It’s stupid!! Also, in Senna’s day there weren’t as many competitive teams, just a couple of dominant ones that he happened to drive for and the rest were knowhere. The same is not true of Schumacher. Schumacher had numerous works teams to contend with as well as several top line drivers, longer seasons and a wife and kids to consider.

        1. Please, please get over it! “Only a few dominant teams”…. did you already forget that during most of Schumachers titles there was ONE, and only ONE super dominant team with ZERO competition! ONLY McLaren had the speed but reliability to finish only about 60% of the races while Schumacher drove more than 50 consecutive races without a mechanical failure, hence NO competition at all!
          We can discuss the circumstances forever but just like we cannot discuss who has the most titles we cannot discuss who won the poll, as a BRAZILIAN driver on a dominantly British site!
          Why? Because his driving has made lasting impressions of exitement on more people than any other driver. You can scream and yell all you want – but that you can never change!!

          1. This “no competition” argument gets boring. The Ferrari was only “dominant” in two seasons (2002 and 2004), three (2001) if you want to stretch the definition of the word to the limit.

            You cannot hold it against MS that he beat the other teams/drivers by a large margin. It’s a sign of his quality, more than it is of you thinking that no-one else was good.

        2. Among the top drivers Schumacher had to face: Hill, Villenueve, Hakkinnen, Coulthard, Raikkonen. Team-mates? Massa, Barichello, Irvine, Helberth, Verstappen (how many world champions do you see?)

          Now Senna: Lauda, Prost, Mansell, Piquet. Team-mates? Hakkinnen, De Angelis, Prost, Hill (how many world champions?)

          1. But if Schumacher had won less, more of those drivers listed would have won championships, and indeed more races.

        3. do the maths :
          Michael Schumacher – Seasons (1991–2006, 2010–2012) starts:308 and 68poles
          where as senna – Seasons 1984–1994 starts :162 poles: 65 @40.12% poles

          top couple should have been Clark,Fangio,Moss,Rindt,Senna going of stats…that is

    1. I know right. Shocking, hands up if you predicted this first round. Too many emotional votes I suspect, twill ever be thus.

      Great fun though.

      1. If he was still alive he would have gone out in round two

        1. Really? If from every race on had never scored another point then maybe…

          Honestly I am not surprised Senna won, and I do think that his legendary status (of which his tragic death is definitely a part) played its part in his winning but the same also applies to Fangio and Schumacher, they each have their own legends…. Saying that so do Ascari, Stewart, Prost and Clark… maybe not quite so bright but….

          Anyway great Championship Keith, has been lots of fun reading, posting, thinking and arguing about this.

          1. especially arguing :D

        2. You might want to consider how many championships he would have won it that were the case :)

          1. No more titles were coming his way at all. Senna was clearly in decline in 93 and 94 and Schumacher was well and truly in the ascendancy. Senna would have retired very quickly one he realised he couldn’t keep up with the young schumacher.

          2. Coefficient, that is such an ignorant statement! Senna was absolutely spectacular in 93 when he finished second in the championship in a McLaren that was completely underpowered because Honda had left F1.
            In 94 active suspension was banned and the Williams FW16 suddenly wasn’t as superior as FW14 and FW25 had been. It was very difficult to drive but your only subject for speaking of decline in 94 is that he lost the car in the very first race in Brazil while he was hit and taken out by both Hakkinen and Larini in the race in Aida. He took pole in all three races of the season!

        3. Well… ask Roland Ratzenberger if somebody remembers him..

          1. I remember the great Ratzenburger.. Any F1 fan does and will rememeber him. It’s just Senna achieved more and was a big characyer in F1. Taking nothing away from Roland and in fact no one would apart from when sill suggestions like this arrive…

            Senna won because he was a GREAT!!!!!!!

      2. This is such BS! People looked at Senna this way way before his death. You don’t come a legend by dying. You become a legend from what you do in life.
        This misinformed BS about that he wasn’t anything special until he died got to stop. Please look at races and read things from before he died before making such stupid assumptions.

        1. I have to agree. I read an article from the Team Manager at Williams, from the season of his death. They were only just getting to know him, but Senna was ‘the man’ in F1. He was interested in everything about it, about it, about people, about humanity.

          He was also very quick. Patrick Head said ‘Bloody Senna, he’s always there or there abouts isn’t he.’ Senna was standing right next to him at the time. Head apologised and explained it as a force of habit.

          Point is, at the time, he was the figure in F1, recognised as being by far the most talented. If he hadn’t of died, Newey, Head etc would have given him the car to win the championship.

          Saying all of this is because he died, is ignorant and poor taste to be quite frank. I remember great excitement when he moved to Willaims for the 94 season, simply because he was the best driver and most dedicated driver of his generation. He proved himself in cars with 1000bhp and drove them the way most can only dream about.

          I wasn’t a fan of him at the time, because I was 14 and wanted Hill to win. So think I can unbiasedly said that he would not of gone out in round one, or two or three if he was alive today. He would probably be fresh in the minds of many having won 1994 for his 4th WDC and maybe more.

          Add to this that 2 years back Autosport surveyed 217 current and past drivers of F1, and they agreed with this CofC result as regards to Senna.

          So before we all go suggesting he’s won because he’s dead, do some research and find out what people thought of him at the time. No doubt he has been glorified and worshipped by some, perhaps elevated to a higher status, but only because he was who he was. He was a ‘great’ at the time and he’s a ‘great’ now.

          1. I disagree with the statement that “he won because he’s dead”. However, I don’t dispute that it was a major contribution to how easily he did win and how much he occupies every F1 fan’s thoughts, past and present.

            Do you think JFK would have been as big a deal if he hadn’t been killed? Kurt Cobain if he hadn’t died? Yes, they were both very famous, but they became legends, in a way, through death. Sort of morbid but also very true.

          2. @Mouse, I’m replying to some statements that said he wouldn’t of got past round 2 if he was alive.

            I’m also not denying death added to the allure and worship of the guy himself.

            However, strip away the reverence and go back to 1994, he was the most revered and respected driver in f1 at the time, and for many, of all time.

            The death just made a great driver, even greater in the minds of many. But he was great to begin with.

            As for JFK? Honestly? He’s the guy who pushed the moon landings to happen inside the decade, and handled politics completely differently to the old guard such as Nixon who was a bulldog.

            JFK was a humanitarian as well, like Senna in fact. People loved him at the time. He got the Americans through the Cuban missile crisis, when the country was preparing to be nuked and building bunkers in their gardens and buying as much canned food as possible. He spoke about withdrawing troops from Vietnam.

            So for that era, the era of the 60’s, in that world climate, JFK was a ‘great’ president to have. Positive, charming, light, clever, he even won a Pulizter prize!. When he died, he became a legend. But only because he actions in his lifetime put him in peoples hearts and mind to begin with.

            Kurt Cobain I care little about. He was a messed up but talented kid, I feel sorry for the guy. But again, his band were in the hearts and minds of people at the time, so his death meant something to them. Rock stars and celebrities seem to be a dine a dozen, drugs and suicide, and accidental death. Yet I don’t hear many people say Kurt Cobain was the greatest musician of all time. I don’t think I’ve ever heard actually?

            Did Lennon become bigger after his death? Was Elvis a midly successful rock star? What about Jackson? They are all dead, they are all loved. Because of what they did in their lifetimes.

          3. Nicely put Hare. Don’t get the Senna-became-a-legend-after-he-died stuff either, at all. An equivalent today would be someone like Messi, still young (23!) but considered the world’s best footballer already for some time.

          4. Thats the most concise argument i have heard on this debate and its the most correct.Senna is/was the fastest man in any car.

          5. Voted for by people who never raced with him and alos by people who never raced after his death. There’s always bias and yours is as blatant as any.

      3. Really enjoyed the series Keith and a great idea.

        However, I really expected Button and Hamilton to be in the final, with this site being so British biased and all.

        I jest of course.

    2. My thoughts exactly.

    3. I suppose it can hardly be suprising, the best 4 will probalby be at the top or close for a majority of fans worldwide.

      I really like how close it was in from the quarter finals onward, that was a bit of a suprise.
      A deserved conquear for Senna, went for the maximum, just as in real life!

  2. as I expected. I believe no one could beat Senna in vote like this. It makes the vote less interesting but I was fun at some point(Clark vs Schumi or Fangio vs Prost)

  3. A deserving winner. Not that I agree with the result, but deserving none the less.

  4. Congratulations Ayrton…

    Michael will still remain the greatest F1 driver of all time… atleast in our hearts !

    1. Maybe to you, not all of us ;)

      1. fair enough and I understand :-)

        1. Senna deserves it, but Schumy is great as well as Senna I think.

    2. Yes, not all will agree. But I feel he was the right choice as his qualifying laps alone (to me) set him above all others.

      1. his stunt for the french grand prix qualifying was so cynical that i have never liked him

      2. pole position don’t earn points.

    3. @Icemangrins Same here, Scumacher is the greatest for me

      1. wooh hoooooooooh …I’m not alone !!

    4. Yep! Michael’s record may never be broken.

  5. SennaNmbr1 (@)
    14th February 2011, 17:21

    I should think so :)

  6. It will be interesting to see what the result would be in say another 10, 20 50 years – whether the senna-less generations to come will have the same view; since I’ve found it’s always harder to have the same attachment to drivers of another era, no matter what their achievements.

    1. All I suspect that will happen is that new names will be added to the list of Senna, Schumacher and Fangio as the greatest of all times…. I very much doubt any of those three will loose their places at the heart of F1. That said in 50years maybe only Schumacher will remain in the top 3 simply because when it comes down to it records count and 7 times world champion… is one that I suspect only one or two people might ever come close to rivalling… and if he clinches an 8th and more…. (huge IF)

      1. If Vettel or Hamilton will have some 3 WDCs to their name by then, they will very likely be right at the top.
        Then again, maybe by that time Lewis will be driving a Red Bull at the back of the field and Vettel will be enjoying some Ferrari GT1 racing as Kobayashi, Kubica, Hulk, Esteban, or whoever comes next fills their places.

        1. I have felt for a long time that Hamilton has the ability to become one of the true greats of the sport, from his début he has shown he is a great racer.

          Vettel on the other hand has only proved he is extremely quick, which is a vital skill for a F1 driver but he still has a long way to go to prove himself to me as a racer able to deal with overtaking and defending his position.

    2. Agreed. I reckon it will be the same as it is now with Clark.

  7. simply the best!!!

  8. Great Keith, just disagree with this:

    Aside from his exceptional record – particularly his astonishing tally of pole positions – a recurring point in the discussions about Senna was the darker side of his talent. Particularly the crash with Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990 that sealed his second title. That cynical and dangerous act cannot be glossed over.

    First Prost had done the same to win the year, taking out Senna (on pole). Second he never hid or denied what he was up to. I’m probably going to get hammered for saying it, but there’s something actually noble for me in the way he took revenge on Prost and won that title. I’d have been happy for Hill to have done the same on Schumacher (another Prost) for example. I say this only as I think it’s unfair to talk of Senna’s ‘dark’ side on the basis of that race. Otherwise he was same as many other top drivers: occasionally ruthless on track, but also capable of real compassion and you (or I) always felt any excess came from some inner demon driving him to test his own limits, not just beat his rivals. That was a long distance second. It’s only when those priorities are reversed that cynical manipulation can really come in, depending on the driver.

    1. Difference was that he put Prost’s life in danger because of someone else (Balestre), so I’m with Keith on this one. But, as I mention below at least he was honest about what he did and why. He had his beliefs and stuck to them.

      1. well i find it naive to believe prost wouldnt have anything to do with balestres decision :)

    2. Revenge is never noble. Also, there is a difference between Prost not getting out of Senna’s way (1989) and Senna driving at full speed into Prost (1990). In the first instance, Senna didn’t need to try the move there and then – he could have waited and slipstreamed past him on the straight, for example. What I’m saying is he could have avoided the accident and the blame for the crash is (IMO) 50/50. In the 1990 instance, the crash was 100% down to Senna and there was nothing Prost could do about it.

      1. Careful now … blasphemy, that’s the beatified Saint Ayrton of Senna, haven’t you been issued with your fully sanctioned copy of the airbrushed mythology?

        There you will clearly read that smashing into a competitor at full racing speed was not a shameful exercise in proto-Schumacherism, but was instead one of his blessed earthly miracles.

      2. here was nothing Prost could do about it

        which is why it was perfect.

        1. which is why Senna should have been disqualified from that years championship and had his licence reviewed by the FIA, and should never be regarded as the greatest of all time.

          1. Pity for you he is then!

        2. And indeed, it wasn’t noble, by any stretch.

          1. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I can remember Schumacher taking out Hill and finding it absurd that Hill ‘accepted’ the ridiculous explanation instead of reacting angrily. And afterwards? Was it really good for Hill to have responded that way? The question matters or mattered to him, not me or us. And in fact I’ve read Brazilians praising the ‘English gentleman’ response to the incident. Maybe you see that as the more noble response. I don’t – accepting the lies and deceit of others when you’ve lost something you value enormously (as Hill had) is somehow a little bit life-destroying, even if it’s safer and easier for everyone else because you don’t make any fuss.

          2. I guess it shows that Senna was far more passionate than someone like Hill, which is a good trait to see in any culture. Obviously though, in this case it went a bit too far and lead to a dangerous and pre-meditated event.

            Hilariously for Hill, even if he did want to win a title against Schumacher in 1995 in the manner Schu won in ’94, he couldn’t because he was outclassed!

          3. Well can’t disagree that Hill was outclassed.
            Senna’s move on Prost was more forewarned than pre-meditated, I think. There’s a Brazilian expression: cutucar a onça com vara curta. Prodding the jaguar with a short stick. Senna obviously felt out-maneouvred politically (with FIA) by Prost and felt the only place he could get the justice he felt he deserved – maybe a better word than revenge = was by himself alone on track.

    3. Couldn’t have said it better.
      Watching Senna jump from his car, avoid an oncoming car to run back and check on another driver who’s had a huge accident is how I remember Ayrton. Not for his taking out Prost.

      1. That’s nice, but both still happened, and others (not me some of the time) will remember Japan 1990.

        1. Agreed, and Senna was known in the sport as being a particularly HARD racer, not saying that as a bad thing because it’s not… but it is part of him and the closer he races to the line the closer he is coming to crossing it… and he did cross it on occasion in my opinion.

          Still as a fan watching him race….. when he was on form and racing hard it was electric.

        2. It’s cute how the people who keep harping about Japan 1990 have no problem being a fan Schumacher with a scandal or two every season.

          1. I am not suggesting it isn’t ok to be a Senna fan.

            I don’t pretend as if Schumacher isn’t tainted.

            So you got it wrong.

          2. And to be honest, I think the mudlinging between fans probably should stop.

            Senna and Schumacher are legends, along with Prost. Let’s leave it at that.

  9. The guy put everything on the line and them some. He was totally F1 – both on and off the track. I think it’s a great result. He didn’t cheat, and if it ever seemed like he did (Japan) it was for reasons he truly believed in and was honest about (unlike Schumi).

    Of course I wasn’t alive when Fangio and Clark were about, but there’s nothing I can do about that!

    1. So basically “he didn’t cheat, except when he did”, right?

  10. But nor can we ignore that two of the other most highly-rated champions – Schumacher and Prost – won titles in similar circumstances

    I thought Schumacher lost it! (1997)

      1. Grrr… Still upsets me.

  11. WOW! SENNA wins a GOAT poll. SENNA! Who’d ever have thought it?

    Honestly though, I would have put Fangio and Prost ahead of him. Senna and Schumacher will never be the greatest for me because of their disregard for safety and racing fairness on track.

    1. Did you just call this a goat poll. come on.. actually I thought this poll was fun and doesn’t (need not) reflect who is and was the greatest. Keith did a great job in setting this up.

      1. Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause offence. Yes it was good fun and extremely interesting, and yes he did do a great job in making it. It’s just more than a little bit frustrating that these polls always end up with the same result, which I happen to disagree with.

        1. fair enough mate.. cheers !

      2. Fully agree, it was thorough fun and a great way to enjoy the off season.
        Only regret is, we can hardly repeat it any time soon, so what to do next year in the off season :-(

        Thanks all posters as well for bringing in new angles, stats, quotes, pictures, videos and opinions.

        1. Best way to repeat it is remove Senna, Schumacher and Fangio from the pole. Then restate the pole as “we know these three as legends, but who is the greatest legend after them”. Cause honestly I wouldnt mind seeing the result.

    2. tflb
      prost ahead of senna? based on what??? certainly not speed or overtaking skills, or rain drive skills or street track skills…i guess perhaps based on his good politics skills though, getting arnoux and mansell booted out of the teams :))
      senna he couldnt, simply because senna was so much better and for mclaren to get rid of senna would be a total no-brainer , so mr.prost went on to get booted by ferrari :)

      1. I wouldn’t say Prost was faster, but qualifying speed is rarely everything in motorsport. Prost was usually at least as fast in races and had much better tactical sense than Senna. And I would say Prost was an equal in terms of overtaking – it’s just Senna’s were more spectacular because he always risked a crash, which is one of the reasons I don’t put him at number 1.

        1. hm, faster means faster, doesnt it.

          that’s a big misconception about prost – being tactical. he was just slower and if cars in front of him dropped out, he came and took it. i mean in those 2 years with senna he was quicker only in france, no tactics ever helped him much.

          have read thru early senna interviews, that guy was driving mad when he didnt need to

          i;m not going into youtube session with you to show how desperately useless prost was when he had to overtake :)

          anyway, there were no drives from prost, like there were from senna, just take his monaco 84…do you need more?? :)

          it’s a bit odd to say “always” risked a crash, innit :)

          1. 1. Faster does not always mean better.
            2. Yes, sometimes cars in front of Prost dropped out, but it was the same for everyone and he had his fair share of bad luck.
            3. Youtube will show that, as I said, Prost was just as good an overtaker as Senna, but their way of doing it was different.
            4. South Africa 1982 was as good a drive by Prost as any of Senna’s, and there were many more which I won’t list here.
            5. I find it difficult to take a comment ending in ‘innit’ seriously.

    3. GOAT

      Greatest of all time?

      1. that sounds alright then..lol

        1. GOAT sounds great! lol

      2. Yes, thats what I meant. Sorry if it was unclear. I didn’t mean goat, as in the small animal with horns!

        1. I goat it.

  12. it’s pointless to do polls to have the obvious outcome…anyone who saw senna drive doesnt have to be genious to know he was by far the best.

    and in this case, when against schumi, in 93 he ate him fair and square. schumi is good, but not as good as senna

    1. Noteworthy is the fact that Ron Dennis fought to get the latest version of Ford engine ( used by Benetton ) and never got it. In spite of that, Ayrton took five victories compared to Michael’s one…
      Williams-Renault was in another league but I’ll always remember how Ayrton closed Alain on straights. Driving 200 mph and blocking the guy behind you. Awesome!

      1. That particular race was in Kyalami, South African GP if I remember correctly.

    2. obvious outcome

      Look at the results. The last rounds were actually quite close run things.

  13. A fair win!
    Many quote the huge number of championships which Michael won, but let’s not forget he rarely had who to challenge him in his team! Just imagine Ferrari signing Villeneuve or Alonso (and Hakkinen provided he stops laughing at offers of red cars) and one can imagine at least a couple of wdcs less. Great drivers, fair result!

    1. You can’t judge someone on what didn’t happen.

      Schumacher, in those seven years, took his teammate and beat them. He took on rivals in good machinery and beat them. Full stop.

      1. But he didn’t did he. You cant beat someone who isn’t allowed to compete against you. That is the biggest question mark over Schumi. The fact he was scared to race his own team mate, That is until last year. The fact is Schumi won most of his titles in the weakest F1 championships ever

        1. You have to consider that Schumacher did have to race drivers in other cars, sometimes even faster than his. If Barrichello was this guy who was denied multiple WDCs by Schumacher, he wouldn’t have watched another teammate beat him in 2009. Irvine, Herbert and Brundle (especially Herbert) were simply destroyed.

          Calling Schumacher’s titles “the weakest” certainly isn’t fact. It’s just insulting drivers like Villeneuve, Raikkonen, Button, Hakkinen, Alonso, Montoya and Coulthard. At the end of the day, you can only beat what is put in front of you. If Schumacher wins 9, 11 or 13 races in a season or finishes on the podium in every single race, then that is just at least as indicative of his quality as it is of the opposition supposedly being weak.

          1. When Johnny Herbert proved to be competitive against Schumacher at Benetton, he was quickly denied information such as telemetry from Schumacher’s side of the team. Rubens Barrichello described his victories at Ferrari as not just against the field but also against the team. I know how great Schumacher is, what I don’t get is why would he need those dirty tactics to “destroy” their team-mates.

          2. When Johnny Herbert proved to be competitive against Schumacher at Benetton, he was quickly denied information such as telemetry from Schumacher’s side of the team.

            I heard about the telemetry stuff, but having checked, he didn’t out-qualify or finish ahead of Schumacher in the first half of the season to trigger this (except Silverstone when Schumacher was leading and then taken out). This dampens the competitiveness argument.

          3. Herbert said this happened during pre season testing, so the damage was done before the season started (if it actually happened).

          4. and Hernerth was given no oppotunity to test. All the testing was done by Schumacher. I think it was only for the British GP that he could test (on the small circuit off course)

    2. Actually IMHO that statistic and the opinion you field of Schumi’s wins not being comparable has been answered and put aside in the discussions I saw the last weeks.

      What this poll round mattered most for me, was how I will now never ever think the less of a champoin just because their only championship(s) have been won only because of … (fill in the blank).

      Sure, the guys quarter finals were superb, but a lot of the “lesser” champions were almost as good. Just think about that famous non-WDC all time great Sir Moss.

      Almost all Champions had wins they “should/would/could” have won if not for a wide range of reasons. And all had factors making it easier on them (a certaion competitor not being fit/having a slow/unreliable car or having a great car themselves, teammates giving up places for them or whatever) at part of their careers.

  14. This is biased, this website is British.

    Only joking but not surprised at result, pure class with an intense passion to win at any cost.

  15. Oh how much i wish i was around to see this legend drive. anyone got any races they could upload???

  16. If anyone deserved to win (aside from Schumacher) then I guess Senna, Prost and Fangio would be the best choices (by some distance IMO), so they all deserved their top four places.

    Great competition!

  17. Ironically, what I think this series means for me is that there is in fact no actual champion of champions. The race wasn’t between these two about six different drivers came across as being the champion for certain people, all with excellent arguments for their pick.

    This result was a foregone conclusion, for a number of factors. But I think even if you somehow removed all the “irrational” voters the result would still be the same. I don’t think Senna was the best driver even of his era. But this isn’t about the best driver, but the favourite driver and Senna for all his achievements and his style deserves the accolade. My one wish is that people who hold him in such high regard don’t denigrate other drivers for the same things they excuse Senna for.

    1. Very well said, thanks! For me, the most interesting thing about this champions of champions was reading people’s reasoning for why one or the other should win.

      I learned, and saw, quite a few new things about the history of F1 and its champions. Especially about those from before my time watching F1 (ie. until the 90ties), but also things that I forgot about and some things that I missed at the time being a young teenager :)

      Great way to spend the F1 winter Keith, thanks for all the effort put into it; it was a great idea.

  18. Surprise surprise. Can’t help but think of this as a popularity contest. I garantee that Senna NEVER would’ve won a poll like this while he was still alive, that would’ve gone to Fangio.

    1. You watched Fangio in the flesh did you? Just RELAX a bit.

  19. Well the Great Michael Schumacher would not begrudge this last win to Senna… out of memory.A final fitting memorial.

    As Schumacher said,he was getting on much better with Senna when his untimely death happened.Prior to that period they had been at loggerheads.

    So wherever you are Senna,this one is for you!

  20. It was a deserved victory. My favourite driver is Michael but Ayrton is a best F1 driver in history…

  21. Meh..

    What position did Raikkonen come in? He wasn’t too bad either.

    1. Jackie Stewart knocked him out in Round 2.

  22. With all the respect to Schumacher, who of course is the best driver when looking at most statistics. But no one, and I repeat, NO ONE drove a car like Ayrton Senna did. His driving was like watching an artist at work, a true genius. Schumacher is perhaps more efficient, but Senna is the most naturally gifted driver I have ever seen. Great Champion!

  23. Dan_the_McLaren_fan
    14th February 2011, 18:49

    I was really disappointed with the Clark-Schumacher match. Clark was my personal favorite driver, and it was such a shame that he was so narrowly beaten by on the champions I like the less. Anyway, I’m still happy that Senna and Fangio became 1st and 3rd, because they really deserve to be in the top3 of champions in my opinion.

    Thanks for the polls, Keith, I didn’t miss one!

  24. Almost forgot that this was still going on.

    Senna and Schumacher in the final – who’da thought!

    Wouldn’t it have been better just to cut straight to the chase?

    Can’t imagine the result being much different in ten years time.

    1. Unless, of course, Lewis can win another championship?

      1. He could win them all from now until then and not get the vote ;-)

  25. The problem is, they were both tainted. The difference between the two were two things, 1) one of them actually jumped out of his car, putting his own life at risk to help another driver. 2) One was much more fun to watch.

  26. For you who stil think he got choosen for his death and misguided image. Please watch the 1993 season and read up on it before you do. And look what he did with that car! He just was a genius before he died! He could have been champion on a few occasions the years he still had in him.

    I might get bashed for this, but I think Lewis Hamilton might be able to get this spot in 10years. He is one of the most gifted drivers ever to grace the F1 world.

    1. I might get bashed for this, but I think Lewis Hamilton might be able to get this spot in 10years. He is one of the most gifted drivers ever to grace the F1 world.

      Well, I can’t argue with you that he was “gifted”.

    2. You’re missing the point of the argument, it’s not that he was regarded as average before his death, it’s just his domination of the #1 of all time has been somewhat influenced by it. Plus that he was around during the living memory of the majority of F1 fans.

      Personally, I think Nuvolari would have run rings around him ;-)

  27. I’m firmly Senna-era, so I have the bias of my generation. It is on its face absurd not to give Schumacher the laural for his tally of titles. But there is a legitimate basis to look past the arithmetic. I think the feeling is that Senna brought a level of domination and consistent, extraordinary performance that we haven’t seen since. Also, key detail, he beat a world champion in the other car to win titles. Schumacher will never be able to say that; indeed, it seems he never wanted to. Schumacher’s most successful teammate, in terms of title challenges, since he first had a winning car remains Felipe Massa. That’s not the ultimate superlative.

    The interesting thing about the Senna/Schumacher comparison is that its not over. But if Schumacher wants to seal his title as the Greatest Ever, he needs to beat a champion teammate fair and square. Whitmarsh and Horner are easy to find in the paddock.

    1. The 1991 Benetton was a winning car, in the hands of triple world champion Nelson Piquet, whi Schumacher beat in that car. So what you say is not correct.

      1. We all know where Piquet’s mind was at that time, don’t we? ;-) … and his career too!

    2. I think the feeling is that Senna brought a level of domination and consistent, extraordinary performance that we haven’t seen since.

      19 podiums in a row?

  28. It’s maybe slightly off topic but I’ve been reading all afternoon about the tragic weekend at Imola in 1994 when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives. I didn’t know about Rubens Barrichello’s awful crash at Friday practice in which I think he was extremely lucky.

    Thanks, Keith, for the excellent article. I can’t wait to see the film about Senna. It’s supposed to be excellent.

    1. And did you knew he had an Austrian flag in the Williams cockpit? If he had won the San Marino race, probably, he was going to show it in the podium … who knows? ;-)

  29. I can’t understand how the Hamilton vs Button match is still the most voted on. More votes than the final even. Darn Hamilton fanboys! :P

    Great job with the whole series of articles Keith. Reading up on past champions to make an informed vote was great, really. And thanks to everybody who commented. A lot of the comments made for great reading, and thankfully there weren’t any all-out flame wars.

    Can’t wait for the season to start!

    1. The poll of Button vs. Hamilton had the most votes (810) because they are the most current combination, and with no surprise the second highest number of votes in the first round was Kimi Raikkonen vs. Sebastian Vettel (752).

  30. Can someone tell me how to make the tourney bracket used in this Champion of Champions event, I have a tourney of my own I’m working on and would like to utilize a similar bracket. Thanks

  31. Jim Clark was the best racing driver ever, and always will be. Jim was just so quick!! He outclassed Jackie Stewart almost infinately. Had he not been killed, Clark would have won a hell of a lot more titles.

  32. Great fun this contest, Keith. Even tough I don’t think this will settle the question of who is the greatest for good!

    And for the people who think Ayrton won because of his tragic death: then you never really saw him drive. Because he has was a truly remarkable driver.

    And btw: Clark also died tragically. As did so many others.

  33. These votes don’t mean anything, Senna was not the greatest driver, he was too much of a dirty driver like shumi.

    Prost should have won :)

    1. that´s your personal opinion.

  34. I have to admit, I do feel a little disappointed with this. Senna absolutely deserves the title and it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would win. But I think a lot of people voted for him simply because he was Senna without really considering who he was up against or how he measured up to them. As has ben said, any of the final four deserved to win. Personally, I consider Fangio to be the greatest champion alive because he did everything Senna and Schumacher did, but he did it forty years before them.

    1. but he did it forty years before them.

      And when he was in his mid forties, competing against drivers in their mid twenties

  35. Very predictable eventual winner, but nonetheless a very fun poll, thanks Keith!

  36. In that four-year period he won three world championships, and lost the other because his principal rival drove into him.

    Not true. Prost went to Suzuka 89 with 76 valid points, Senna with 60. Thus Senna’s only chance of being champion was Prost not scoring any points in any of the last two races (which did happen) AND Senna winning both (which didn’t, as he crashed in Australia). So, even if Senna was granted the win at Suzuka, he had no mathematical chance of being champion.

    1. You can’t consider what happened in Australia as what would have happened if Senna still could be champion. Thing is, we will never know…

      1. That’s pure speculation. History is not about IFs. What DID happen is that Senna crashed in Australia, and it had nothing to do with Suzuka.

        In any case, Prost had a much better chance of taking the title in 90 than Senna in 89

  37. Lost “because his rival drove into him.” Ooh, controversial.

  38. Well, Senna is the best, so nothing more deserving.

  39. Fair enough I think we have seen some decent decision by the members of F1F,it was tough to draw a line between the top 4 drivers but eventually I think Senna deserve it,we will never know where his & Clark career would have end if both haven’t had their accidents.

  40. Senna , Prost , Schumi , Clark and Fangio are great drivers . They raced in different eras and had their own strengths and weaknesses . It would be unfair to place one above another .

    So just sit back and enjoy their talent .

    1. I agree with you. It has seen a lot of bickering, but stilla great series nonetheless. And it helped to fill the void until the new season, just under 4 weeks to go!

    2. OK rabbit, but from the 5 drivers you mentioned, only 2 are contemporary at their peak of form: Ayrton and Prost. More importantly, they were team mates for 2 years, each one winning from the other. That’s, for me, the most important factor when comparing F1 drivers. The same applies to Vettel winning 2010 F1 WC against Webber and not against Massa … in a Ferrari! I know you know what I mean. ;-)

  41. It would be nice to have a poll to see which drivers you have seen racing .

  42. Does anyone know the dates of the HRT Monza test?

  43. i think was a very good poll. And the results are as good as any i’ve seen, or even better. People in the blog are knoledgable and make it worth it.
    It is imposible to judge drivers from different eras, but one thing is clear. The top six, whatever way you want to put it is:

  44. Well, we always knew it will be Senna. Im suprised it s just 60 or so votes more than Schumi. Too many people rate drivers based on their character, but it isnt Miss personality competition. And I find it stupid since no one is more like Senna than Schumacher, just as no one is more like Schumacher than Alonso (charactervise).
    But nice discussions and good idea from f1fanatic.
    Let s do this again in few years , maybe when Schumi wins his eight WC we will have different results. Just maybe.

  45. Schumy is the ONE!

    1. Schumi will always be No.”1″.


  46. The main part of the answer didn’t come out only the last bit.

    What I said was,that in the 1990’s there was hardly any internet,so we only had papers and TV for coverage,no forums to discuss matters,nothing.

    In the late 1990’s UK was just seeing the Internet as a means to see eveything you wanted at the touch of a button,BUT Europe was WAY BEHIND with the Internet at that stage

    I saw Senna racing many times,I also saw the young Schumacher and in my opinion he was every bit as good as Senna at that young age.

    I hope all the younger generation realise about the Internet,it was virtually neglible when Senna was at his best,so in that respect Senna is at a disadvantage and also the young Michael was,compared to now.

    You youngsters imagine F1 without the Internet!!!!!

  47. It never ceases to amaze me, the lack of objectivity some people can have when looking at these types of vote.

    Keith set out stating that this is a fun poll, and anyone was free to vote.

    So when the conclusions come out and they don’t fit with your personal conclusion, it somehow becomes a “joke”?

    Personally I liked Prost, and Senna (nothing much between the two). I have never had a chance to see much of Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Fangio (who I suspect would be worthy winners also).

    I didn’t like the way Michael crashed into Damon, and for the following years I could not support him. However as time went by I could appreciate his winning and excellence more and more.

    Whether he had preferential treatment is irrelevant, as he still went out and won the titles.

    I just can’t understand why others seem unable to separate the driver they support/supported, and the merits of other drivers. I support Jenson and Lewis (and have always followed Williams), but that doesnt mean I cannot appreciate a great drive or season from Vettel, Alonso.

    People stating Ayrton won because of nothing more than an enigma/folklore obviously didnt see him race, or have not talked to those in F1 who had him in their team. Or seen how he dominated quali sessions (the margin between him and the next man was sometimes seconds rather than 0.5).

    Got to admit, that a lack of objectivity from some drives me absolutely potty, but thats for another day ;-)

    1. wow perfect coment! I feel the same way! I too support McLaren and their drivers. I´ve been a fan of Button since the honda days, and Hamilton is my favorite too. But I admit I REALLY like the other drivers as well. Alonso comes a really really close second to my eyes, and his victory in Singapore and Monza were really awesome to watch.

      Same goes for the big time champions. Senna is my favorite, but I also like Schumacher and Prost specially. To me they are all great drivers. I just prefer more than the other.

      anyways, great comment, I second what you said!

  48. Thanks Keith, this was funny!

    What about a “non-champion” best driver poll?? ;-)
    Stirling Moss, Michele Alboreto or Jean Alesi?

  49. Senna Number 1!!

  50. Hmmm…. a picture of Senna on the podium of the US GP @ Phoenix.

    Worst GP circuit ever.

    You either loved Senna or you loathed him… there never seemed to be a middle ground with him, except that everyone respected him as an incredible talent.

  51. It was an amazing series of polls to follow, very educational and one of it’s kind, specially to those who didn’t live to see the older Champs race. Thank you Keith for all your efforts, this only shows how deeply rooted this blog is in F1. Directly comparing the older generation with the newer one has helped put the history of F1 into perspective. It will never be a 100% fair to compare drivers from different eras using different technologies, but they may be more similar to each other than we think! Every F1 champion shares the passion, love, and will to succeed. It is very interesting to see what each and every one of them made out of such feelings.. Each career is different in terms of achievements, length, and number of wins but the underlying drive that brought them into F1 is the same in all of them..

    Ayrton Senna may not be the choice of everyone on here, it’s impossible to all agree on one Champion. I personally think he fittingly represents the character of a true racer in terms of his sheer will to succeed and passion to race. Although at times, his sheer will to succeed may have caused him to succeed at costs that weren’t justifiable, but as Keith already said he isn’t the only one that crossed the ethical line. Regardless, people still loved his honest character and as a person who never saw him race (was young and not yet interested in F1 sadly), I hear of him today and wonder what was it like to see him racing? It’s this feeling of greatness about him which makes him an undeniable champion.

    1. Yes I agree LAK and thanks Keith for all the hard work on the stats… you made my morning coffee a lot more interesting.

      Cheers, Alex

    2. LAK, do you want to see some Ayrton races? Just let me know … ;-)

  52. Lotus Renault GP PL 30 minutes ago in reply to Barracuda

    Not really, Heidfeld has year contract already

    1. Where’d you see that?

      1. http://blog.lotusrenaultgp.com/?p=394

        official blog, post from LRGP answering to delarosa testing

        1. http://twitter.com/lrgppl

          “There are rumours that Heidfeld got year contract, but he is negotiating longer deal based on his performance”

          1. :( it is not official

          2. Still rumours, the “@lrgppl” is a Polish fan, not the official team tweet.

      2. Yeah that’s just a commenter who’s aping their style. It’s not official.

  53. Com’on … if Senna was not dead … he was able to eclipse some Shummi records! Do you guys bet that Senna was able to fill his dream of 5 WC? In retrospective, easy to achieve because the Williams team had, at least, 3 more years (in the following 4 years) with great cars. Damon won! Jaqques too!
    Definitely, Senna was the most passionate driver of them all!

    But nevertheless, nowadays, we have some great F1 drivers which will never get closer to some of Alain, Ayrton or Shummi records just because they are all at the same time in F1. Bad for them, GOOD for us! What I mean is that some records speak for themselves but they are only records and a great driver, or the greatest driver, cannot be only selected because of his records.

  54. i think the fact that jack brabham did as well as Jim Clark tells you all you need to know. These things are always flawed but a unilateral decision to pair x with y means it has about the same merit as 2 blokes in a bar arguing the toss. I guess it also reflects the “princess diana” syndrome people seem to suffer from these days. MS and AS did as much damage to the sport as they brought joy and awe.

    i think if you take the stand out driver from each era, so Nuvolari, Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Senna, Schumacher and then decide the last 2 and most recent are best then you are almost certainly wrong.

    1. Clarke’s First Law (paraphrased): When one states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. But when he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

  55. All of us have a lack of objectivity, we are biased towards the people we like (or away from those we can’t stand). I couldn’t take Senna at time and for that reason I rooted for Prost. I liked Schumacher until the 1994 season. I understand both of them (Senna and Schumacher are the best of the best but don’t like the way they “built” the teams around them and crushed the oppositon by means of bullying.

  56. Well, this is a shocker isn’t it?

    From round 1 I already knew Senna would be the man. I don’t agree with it, and I don’t agree with the method used by several to vote on the “what if” bias, but such is people.

    Great series, great fun!

    1. Yeah, not exactly a surprise. I said before that previously undiscovered Amazonian tribes could’ve told you that Senna would win..

      Next year’s poll: What colour is an orange?

  57. senna didnt only win becuase he died, thats over simplifying to try and make your point. The canonisation of Senna occurred becuase he died and his behaviour was largely ignored in an era where there was less media intrusion. If Senna had lived and faded or worse made a comeback and struggled then its distinctly possible he would be lower down the list. You only have to look at Prost, a driver, the equal of Senna, albeit a very different driver; hes almost painted as the baddie.

    I watched them both from their first race to their last and Senna has for sure gone one way in the eyes of history and Prost the other

  58. In my opinion, what separates Senna and Schumacher is that Schumacher achieved his success in a very guarded manner whereas Senna put his heart and soul on show for the public to see.

    This is what racing fans connected with; whether a Senna fan or not we all respect a pure racer, and this is what separates the two in a poll of racing fanatics.

    Senna won our hearts and Schumacher won our minds and clearly our hearts count for 7% more..

  59. very well put studio6. i still maintain a final without fangio or clark is not a final.

    1. A final that disagrees with your opinion is still a final ;)

  60. All F1 drivers voted Senna
    80% of todays drivers voted Senna
    Journalists voted Senna
    Engineers voted Senna
    10.000 Autosport readers voted Senna
    F1 fanatic readers voted Senna

    and all these despite the fact that 90% of Senna fans do not use internet let alone blogs because of their age.

    you dont have to admit it but he is the GREATEST.

  61. Ayrton Senna:
    -Years in F1: 10 (+ 3 races in 1994)
    -Victories: 41
    -Poles: 65
    -Championships: 1988, 1990-1991.
    -Teams: Toleman (Worst), Lotus (Medium), Mclaren (High), Willians(High).

    Michael Schumacher
    -Years in F1: 16
    -Victories: 91 (The most in 2000 decade)
    -Poles: 68 (3 more than Senna in 16 years!!)
    -Championships: 1994-1995, 2000-2004
    -Teams: Benneton (High), Ferrari(…No coments)

    Now who’s the Best???

    1. Thanks Manu!

      That was an awesome response – let’s close it here! :-)

Comments are closed.